Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Cry in the Night

I could swear that I'd already blogged about A Cry in the Night before. A search of the blog, however, claims that I haven't. It's airing tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM on TCM, so now would be a good time to do a post on the movie.

The film starts off late one evening on a Lovers' Lane type place where all the teens and other people who want to make out in secret congregate -- nobody's going to let out the other people's secrets, lest their own secrets be relesaed, too. Among the neckers is young Liz Taggart (Nathalie Wood), daughter of police detective Dan (Edmond O'Brien). She's here with her fiancé Owen (Richard Anderson), but hasn't had the courage to tell Daddy about Owen yet; she knows he won't approve. But that's soon about to become the least of her problems. Hanging around all those couples is Harold Loftus (Raymond Burr), engaging in some voyeurism. His actions are heard but not seen, and Owen gets out of the car to figure out what's going on. At this point, Harold hits Owen over the head, knocking Owen out. Harold then takes Owen's car, with Liz in it! The other lovebirds flee, not wanting to be caught making out or accused over what happened to Owen.

Eventually, Owen is found by a cop, and brought to the station, where the night captain on duty (Brian Donlevy) thinks Owen is drunk. The doctor diagnoses a concussion and some short-term memory loss, and when all that clears up, Owen is able to tell them what happened, and how the police must have a kidnapping case on their hands. Worse than that, it's the kidnapping of a member of a cop family. Worst of all, it's the daughter of a cop who's going to go through the roof when he discovers that his precious little daughter was making out on a lovers' lane with this Owen guy; kidnapping only makes it that much worse.

Ah, but back to Harold the kidnapper. He's the much more fun character than Detective Taggart. He's taken Liz to his hideaway, an abandoned foreman's shack in a disused brickworks. He's not just a kidnapper; he's a psycopath, too. Apparently, he's never been with a woman before, as he has no idea of how to treat Liz. At times he's almost trying to romance her; when she undesrtandably refuses his romances, he goes ballistic. Harold is the way he is in part because of his mother Mabel (Carol Veazie). He lives with her and supports her, and when he doesn't come home that night, having kidnapped Liz (of course, Mom knows nothing about this), Mabel calls the police! The police aren't that stupid, and eventually are able to put two and two together and figure out that perhaps they and Mabel are interested in the same person.

If A Cry in the Night has one problem, it's that it was made during the era when the Production Code was still being enforced; that means that there's really only one possible outcome. The brickworks, however, provides a nice backdrop for the eventual climax, somewha reminiscent in terms of industrial imagery of the refinery in White Heat or the industrial-sized gas tanks in Odds Against Tomorrow. Burr had played psycho bad guys in several earlier movies, and is pretty good here. Nathalie Wood's purpose in the movie is little more than the damsel in distress, and she pulls off that role well enough. O'Brien is OK if a bit too strident as the angry cop, while Carol Veazie gets the fun stuff as the mother who's given her son issues. A Cry in the Night is another of the many movies that's nothing particularly groundbreaking, but is quite enjoyable.

As far as I know A Cry in the Night has not received a DVD release, so you're going to have to catch the TCM showing.

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